The line between excess and excessive is a thin one. We like excess, usually, and comics are good at bringing excess. Sometimes it’s Al Ewing writing an Avengers mecha fighting the American Kaiju; sometimes it’s Grant Morrison writing the Justice League, giving every human being superpowers to fight the cosmic warbringer . . . and sometimes it’s Scott Snyder, writing a cosmic rock and roll opera. Dark Nights: Metal was what we want – or at least what I want – from a summer event comic. In Death Metal #3, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo try to up the ante, and make something bigger and better then before. But instead, they just make a comic that is . . . well, gross. It crosses the line from amazing excess, to depraved excessiveness. It makes your skin crawl when you read this comic.
There are many things that are wrong with Death Metal #3, but the level of disgusting elements here is frankly disturbing. I mean, look at the Robin King. Near the end of the book, the Robin King confronts the Flashes and the JSA in their underground lair. When Barry confronts the goblin, he replies with this line:
“See, on my world, I dug up your dead mom, covered her remains in this great speed force canceling toxin that liquefies your muscles. Super painful. Such cool stuff. I stuffed her rotting corpse into a flash ring. Her arms sort of fling out like she’s trying to hug you when she pops out! Want to see?”
And is this what we want from a comic? And not from a MAX comic, either – this is going to be on the same rack as Ms. Marvel. Do we want to be reading a book about a child confronting someone with the corpse of their late mom, thrown out of a flash ring? This isn’t fun.
More broadly, Death Metal #3 is just mindless. It’s either aping better comics – Final Crisis, mostly, with the three Flashes racing cosmic armageddon, and the Bat-Darkseid using Darkseid’s gun from that event’s finale – or flogging them. Do we need more Watchmen? We already read that book being relentlessly exploited in Doomsday Clock: the nonsense with ‘Batmanhattan’ and the ‘Darkest Knight’ is just idiotic. That comic happened almost forty years ago. Do something new.
What makes this worse is that it’s all so fixable! One more editing pass would have fixed this book. The parts with the Final Crisis knockoffs, the Watchmen references, and the utterly crude and gross Robin King quotes are not, by any means, story critical. It could have been changed, and that modified version would have made this book a 9/10.
As it stands, however, every point this comic gets is from artist Greg Capullo, inker Jonathan Glapion, and colorist FCO Plascencia. The art is amazing. And even better than that is the coloring. The art pops, with every panel, every inch of this book just dripping with incredibly evocative imagery. The reds and purples are so, so beautiful.
I wish I could recommend Death Metal #3. I really do. I loved the first Metal, and I love the idea behind the comic. But the execution here is just . . . disturbing.